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Speaker For The House of Commons Accused Of “Party Politics” In Gaza Ceasefire Vote

Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the Speaker for The House of Commons is under heavy scrutiny over seemingly siding with Labour and breaking normal conventions. 

Late Wednesday night, the 21st of February, was what is called an “opposition day debate” where non-government parties are allowed to pick the agenda and table motions or votes, the SNP has three of these days a year and this was one of them. 

Usually only the government (in this case the Conservative Party) would be able to put forward other amendments on opposition days, however the Speaker broke this unwritten rule and allowed Labour to take over the debate, and put in their vote for a ceasefire instead.

This sparked fury from both the Conservatives and the SNP, as the vote put forward by Labour had drastic wording changes from their own that they wished to put forward.

The motion put forward by the SNP called for an “immediate ceasefire” in Gaza, as well as called for the “collective punishment of the Palestinian people” to end. 

The motion put forward by Labour however (which has only recently shifted its stance on the matter in recent days) also backed an immediate ceasefire but also stated that “Israel cannot be expected to cease fighting if Hamas continues with violence”.

Sir Lindsay Hoyle stated that he allowed this to happen to allow the “widest range of propositions," and to also protect MP’s safety over the issue, yet this decision caused chaos within the House of Commons, causing uproar and even many SNP and Tory MP’s to walk out. 

The Conservatives said that the Speaker had “undermined the confidence of the Commons”, and pulled both their amendment and their participation in the debate, leaving only Labour’s amendment standing unopposed, meaning there was no longer any point in having the SNP’s vote as well.

It is speculated that Sir Keir Starmer “hijacked” the vote, and strongarmed the speaker into allowing him to do this as to avoid another rebellion within his own party, and it is rumoured that Starmer had even threatened Sir Lindsay Hoyle with ousting him from his position if Labour win the upcoming general election this year. 

The last rebellion to occur under Starmer happened in November of 2023, over another ceasefire vote, when 56 Labour MP’s broke off from voting with the rest of the party and joined a SNP motion urging for an immediate ceasefire.

The Speaker later apologised, and called the move a “mistake”, yet many MP’s are seeking to have Hoyle resign, by calling for a vote of no confidence. 

Maria Caulfield, the Health Minister for the Government claimed that Hoyle’s decision was “made under undue pressure” from Keir Starmer and other Labour MP’s, and then later accused the Speaker of placing “party politics” over his responsibility to be unbiased and fair.

These accusations have been denied by MP’s in the Labour party, as well as an undisclosed source close to the Speaker. 

However this debacle has caused a total of 56 SNP and Tory MP’s, with more seemingly joining in the near future, to sign a motion of no confidence in Hoyle.

The Speaker is currently conducting damage control, and is holding talks individually with all parties involved for a discussion to clear the air and seek an understanding.  

Stephen Flynn, the SNP leader in Westminster, stated after the debate that the Speaker had “colluded” with Starmer to “block Parliament voting on the SNP motion".

Pat McFadden, the Labour campaign coordinator stated on Thursday that Sir Keir had tried to persuade the Speaker to allow a vote on Labour’s motion, but categorically denied the reports that Starmer had threatened Hoyle, and stated that the speaker had just acted in “good faith”.

He then went on to blame the situation on the Tories, stating that their decision to revoke themselves from the debate caused this, and accused them of using this as a chance to avoid a revolt within their own party.

In today's BBC Radio 4’s programme, Maria Caulfield the Minister for Health responded to these accusations saying that the speaker's decision meant that MP’s from her own party could face backlash for not backing the SNP motion.

"He took the threats to Labour MPs seriously, but took no consideration of what would happen to Conservative MPs".


Edited by Chloe Mansola

Image "Sir Lindsay Hoyle MP, Speaker of the House of Commons" by Jessica Taylor is licenced under CC BY 4.0 DEED

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